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Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo

From the Dominican Republic to Cambridge: researching the archaeological heritage of the Caribbean

The professor of INTEC, Roberto Valcárcel Rojas made a research visit to the Department of Archeology of the University of Cambridge, at the beginning of March of this year

From the Dominican Republic to Cambridge: researching the archaeological heritage of the Caribbean

The archaeologist and professor of the Area of ​​Social Sciences and Humanities of Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo (INTEC), Roberto Valcárcel visited the Department of Archeology of the University of Cambrigde with the objective of study objects of metal obtained in contexts archaeological de Dominican Republic, deposited in the collections of the Eduardo Leon Jimenes Cultural Center.

"The artifacts go back to the beginning of the European arrival, perhaps to the Columbian period, and possibly they entered the indigenous communities as gifts or from exchanges with the Spaniards", explains the professor, who indicates that the objects (metal sheets, jingle bells, buckles) they were valuable for indigenous its exotic character and because they possessed qualities that linked them to their conceptions of the sacred.

The visit of the teacher to the University of Cambrigde is part of joint research actions between this institution, the INTEC, the Eduardo Leon Jimenes Cultural Center, and the NEXUS 1492 project (University of Leiden, The Netherlands), in the latter, Valcárcel participates as a researcher postdoctoral

La research is done by Valcárcel In collaboration with Marcos Martinón Torres, Professor Pitt-Rivers of the Department of Archeology of the University Cambridge and an international authority, on issues of application of science to archaeological research, with projects underway in China, the Mediterranean and South America.

Prior to the investigation, Dr. Martinón Torres and Valcárcel, together with colleagues from institutions in the United Kingdom, Colombia and France, conducted a study of the collections of indigenous objects of gold, and of gold and copper alloys -the latter known as guanines- existing in Cuba.

These collections are considered the most extensive found in the Antilles. "So far, from these studies comes the most complete and accurate characterization for the region, with regard to analysis of metal composition of these objects and the techniques used for their manufacture," said Valcárcel.

The INTEC teacher clarifies that during the visit there was not a direct study of the objects, which remained in the Dominican Republic, but it was worked from data generated by a macroscopic review of the pieces and images obtained by digital microscopy.

"It is expected that the results of the study will allow us to understand not only the origin and manufacture of these artifacts, but also the way in which they were incorporated by the natives into their social and cultural universe, as well as details associated with the handling of metals and gold by these communities, "Valcárcel said.

Valcárcel's stay at the University of Cambridge allowed him to identify new possibilities for cooperation in terms of archaeometric research, using the resources of the laboratories of the Department of Archeology, as well as initiating actions for the development of local capabilities in archaeometalurgy in Dominican Republic and the Caribbean.

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